Teachers Act Up!

Thoughts on Teaching, Language, and Social Change from Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor

Spanish Language Children’s Literature

Reading children’s literature in Spanish offers bountiful resources for readers at any age, English or Spanish dominant or anywhere in between. Here are just a few reasons why reading children’s and young adult works in Spanish work so well for Spanish language learners –whether Spanish is being acquired as a first or second language.

Forthcoming, I will publish reviews of Spanish language children’s literature that can be purchased in the United States.  Below a list of reasons why using these resources are helpful to building Spanish language literacy and oralcy skills:

Image & vocabulary reinforcement: Picture books provide visual clues to understanding the text, a great way to improve comprehension with less reliance on word by word dictionary defintions.

Repetition and genre expectations: Picture books often follow expected genre conventions, introducing a simple plot line that is easy and often interesting to follow.  Early childhood books often include repetitive vocabulary or refrains which also help the Spanish language learner to be able to predict what will come next and acquire a rhythm to language use.

Authentic immersion in the book’s cultural world: Children’s literature does not have to be about Day of the Dead or Cinco de Mayo to explore large and small aspects of culture.  A quick look at the ways authors and illustrators convey products & processes offer readers a way to immerse oneself in the cultural world of the language book and compare to one’s individual and societal culture in the U.S. and elsewhere.  You may not be able to travel to a bookstore in Buenos Aires but you can read a book and get a rich sense of morning routines at breakfast in Buenos Aires, modes of dress, and politeness conventions.

Embedded grammar lessons:  Tired of studying the different past, present, and future grammar tenses in Spanish? The best way to become better at grammar in any language is to read, read, and read some more.  Reading children’s books you will find all the grammar covered in many years of formal classroom language study.  Current methods for second language instruction such as the TPRS model, discourse a focus on discrete grammar skills and advocate embedding grammar and teaching vocabulary.  Children’s books are an excellent resource for such an approach.


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